The 2005 Pontiac Aztek Is the $2,000 Summer Adventure Car You Didn’t Know You Wanted

There are few pleasures like finding the perfect summer “beater” car at a bargain price. Lovers of outdoor adventure know that vehicles can take a severe beating in the name of fun. All of those dents, dings, scratches, and claw marks hurt much less on a car that cost next to nothing. The 2005 Pontiac Aztek is so cheap you won’t mind putting it through its paces.

All the bells and whistles you could ask for

The paid crowd at the reveal of the 2000 Pontiac Aztek
Pontiac Aztek | Daniel Lippitt/AFP via Getty Images

The key to a great adventure is preparing for anything. The Pontiac loaded the Aztek with gear and accessories for last-minute trips and well-planned excursions alike. These accessories are part of why this is the ultimate cheap SUV for outdoor activities. 

Car campers will love the custom-fitted air mattress that fills the rear cargo area. There’s no need for a travel trailer or hotel room on long trips when you can comfortably sleep in the Aztek. The Aztek comes with a custom tent that attaches to the vehicle’s hatch for those who need a little more living space.

One of the most practical stand-out features is the onboard air compressor. Aztek drivers can effortlessly inflate bike tires, rafts, air mattresses, and more. It helps blow sand, mud, and water off of gear for easy clean-up.

The price is the best part

Sometimes a flaw becomes advantageous. The Pontiac Aztek’s biggest failure is its dismal popularity. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more hated SUV. From 2000 to 2005, the Aztek was picked apart by critics and publicly roasted.

Critics slammed its appearance calling it a minivan in SUV clothing. The interior was said to be made with cheap materials, and the Aztek’s weak engine failed to impress. That translates to rock-bottom pricing for used car shoppers.

Kelly Blue Book lists the fair market range for the 2005 Pontiac Aztek from $1,823 to $4,252. Shoppers can find Azteks with decent milage at dealerships and from private sellers for around $2,000. At this price point, it’s easy to forgive the Aztek its shortcomings.

It’s not all sunshine and roses

A blue Pontiac Aztek SUV on display
Pontiac Aztek | Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

For around $2,000, the Pontiac Aztek is a decent, cheap, well-appointed car for occasional outdoor adventures. It’s also a quirky, offbeat choice with a lot of character. There are also many things it is not. 

The Aztek is not luxurious. Pontiac built this SUV economically, and it shows, especially in the interior. The plastics used in the cabin feel cheap and flimsy to test drivers and reviewers. Creature comforts like cupholders are also in short supply.

Buyers looking for a high-performance SUV should look elsewhere. This is not a tight-cornering sleeper. The Aztek has been called slow and clumsy. At 19 mpg combined, its fuel economy leaves much to be desired.  

With realistic expectations, used car shoppers can get a lot of fun and adventure out of this awkward SUV. Think of it as a minivan optimized for the outdoor experience, and the Aztek might not disappoint. For $2,000 (sometimes even less), this unpopular and sometimes hated SUV is a perfectly priced knock-around car for Summer.

RELATED: The Pontiac Aztek Is Actually Cool Now